Each visit was deeply meaningful for Brian.
Over two trips in May 2015 and 2016, Brian met each of his sponsored children. He was showered with flowers in India as Maya’s village welcomed him. In Zambia, he had a go at brick-laying with the community. Renuka’s family shared breakfast with him in Sri Lanka, and Brian felt his visit was all too short. Tanzania, where he met Christina, was his favourite destination, and he hopes to return one day. Villagers were often touched that Brian had travelled so far to see their home.
Brian came bearing gifts (a cricket set for Maya and her friends in India was a highlight), and he received gifts in return. But that wasn’t where the value of the travel was for Brian. “Meeting the people, learning the culture, seeing how they live… I’ll never forget it,” he says.
Each girl had her own dreams for their future, and now they had support to help them achieve it. “Two [of the girls] want to be teachers, one wants to be a nurse,” Brian says. His hope of supporting their education was being realised.
He couldn’t speak highly enough of his travels.
Now that he’s home, Brian receives mail from his sponsored children with a deeper knowledge of their lives and homes. “I get mail from the four girls, and they send me photos and school reports,” he says. “It’s good to see that they’re getting education and they’ve got fresh, clean water – that’s great.”
Brian already felt that sponsoring the four girls had given him a new lease on life, but travel to meet each girl enhanced his understanding of their world.
Was the amount of travel worth it? Brian has no doubt of it. Experiencing the girls’ community and sharing their culture gave him insight like nothing else could.
“A photograph is nothing compared to face-to-face,” he says. “If you go to where they live and you live their lifestyle, then when you come back, you can look at a photo and you’re back living with them.”